Sailing in San Diego

Discover the best San Diego sailing locations for smaller and larger boats plus useful tips, common practices and ideal times for a day of sailing on the Bay.
Sailing in San Diego
Sailing in San Diego
Best Time to Go Sailing
Featured Activity
The 411 on Sailing
Where to Go Sailing
Save on Tours
Sailing Tips
Where to Stay

A Guide to Sailing in San Diego

If you are searching for a once in a lifetime experience to enjoy on the water, sailing in San Diego might be just what you’re looking for!

Sailing is a distinct activity that can be enjoyed by an individual or with the entire family. Either way, spending a day with the wind in your sails is an invigorating venture that is sure to bring about memorable moments.

But what is sailing and how is it different from going on a boat ride? Power boats primarily rely on the motor while sailing relies on the wind to propel the boat forward, and San Diego has plenty of wind to guide the sails. In addition, sailing provides a different experience than Kite Surfing and Windsurfing because there’s an actual boat instead of a board.

The history of sailing dates back to around 3500 BC where the record of a ship was displayed on an Egyptian vase. Viking history is a bit more widely known and dates back to about 1000 years ago when the Vikings sailed to North America. However, the means of sailing have evolved tremendously since it first began.

Local Tips
Sailing With Whales
If you decide to learn to sail in winter, you’ll be treated to some whale sightings. The Pacific gray whales migrate along the coast of San Diego.

Sailing was originally designed for fishing and traveling which are activities that can still be enjoyed while sailing today. But in the 17th century the Dutch began racing for fun. Now, going sailing is an outdoor activity that is relished by millions throughout the world on rivers, oceans and lakes.

If you’re interested in sailing and San Diego history, consider visiting the Maritime Museum of San Diego where you can view world-class National Historic Landmark Vessels. As part of the Build Your Own package of the Go San Diego Card, you can combine your visit with top attractions throughout the city including the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum and San Diego Zoo.

While the thrill of sailing can be experienced in various areas in the world, San Diego offers a truly special encounter due to its scenery and beautiful year-round weather. No matter if you are visiting or live in the area, sailing in San Diego is an activity that needs to be added to your to-try list.

Best Time to Go Sailing

If there’s one thing San Diego is known for, it’s that the weather is ideal year-round. In fact, the city is often referred to as “America’s Finest City” due to the moderate temperatures, amenities & events the area has to offer.

San Diego, California is said to average about 300 days each year that are filled with sunshine. While San Diego has beautiful weather throughout the year, what you will experience sailing will be dependent on when you choose to go.

If you’re aiming to spend the day out in warm weather and spend some time on the beach, then spring or summer may be the best time for your sailing adventure. However, for a remarkable sailing venture then winter may be ideal.

Winter months in San Diego boasts the ability for visitors to witness whales migrating along the coast. Sailing is the ultimate opportunity for families or individuals to observe an unbelievable moment.

While the seasons may offer varying sailing experiences, you can go sailing any time of the year as long as the wind is consistent and the ocean is not stormy.

Featured Activity

San Diego Harbor Cruise on San Diego Bay at Sunset
San Diego Harbor Cruise
Enjoy this ‘San Diego Top Pick Award’ winner as you set sail on a three level luxury ship providing 360-degree views of San Diego’s scenic beauty. Relax for a 1-2 hour narrated tour, learn about the city from the bay.
Buy Now

The 411 on Sailing

Sailing is a wonderful experience. Just as with any new experience, there are things you should know to ensure a safe and easy trip.

Getting Started

Beginners should set out in calmer waters. In addition, it’s important to sail in ideal conditions and areas where boat traffic is minimal. Smaller sail boats are also easier to maneuver when first starting out. Mission Bay is a great place to start out sailing, specifically Sail Bay in Mission Bay.

What to Bring

Whether you’re experienced sailing or a newcomer, there’s a few items to bring along during the trip. First and foremost, life jackets are imperative. There should be a life jacket for every individual on the boat and they should be accounted for prior to leaving.

Shoes are another important thing to take into consideration. There are specially designed, rubber-sole shoes that will help keep you from slipping. Sperry’s are a popular brand that many avid boaters wear. If you do not want to buy special shoes it is acceptable to go barefoot.

It’s key to be prepared for any outcome in weather. You should always pack additional clothing for bad weather or in case your clothes get wet. Some individuals find it useful to bring a wind jacket or raincoat.

Safety Equipment

Safety is of utmost importance when it comes to sailing. An individual should never stand on lines or wrap them around their hands prior to leaving the dock.

If you are renting a sailboat during a trip then it’s imperative to make sure all safety equipment is accounted for. For individuals who brought their own boat, there are necessary items that should be taken on every trip. Fire extinguishers, flashlights, flares, life jackets, whistles, navigation lights and a radio are just a few safety items that should be on board.

A common saying amongst sailors is: “one hand for you and one for the boat.” In other words, leave your phone in your pocket or it might end up overboard.

Popular Hotels Nearby
Popular Hotels
Price
Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina
$179
Check Price
Bahia Resort Hotel
$199
Check Price
Bay Club Hotel & Marina
$153
Check Price
Humphreys Half Moon Inn & Suites
$159
Check Price

Best Places to go Sailing in San Diego

There are many options when it comes to sailing in San Diego. Visitors can choose to go on sailing tours, go on a sunset sailing cruise or take sailing lessons. The options for sailing in San Diego are abundant.

Mission Bay and San Diego Bay are the top spots for setting sail. Each area boasts its own benefits and unique features, so it can be a pretty hard choice to make!

Sail Bay on Mission Bay

Mission Bay is a very popular area for sailing, especially Sail Bay. There are bridges located throughout Mission Bay so it is primarily for smaller sail boats.

Sail Bay can be found on the peninsula of Mission Beach on the northern corner of the bay. Visitors who choose Sail Bay will be able to experience any area north of Mission Beach Peninsula to Riviera Drive on Crown Point.

There are a few options for getting to Sail Bay. However, Fanuel Street Park is a popular choice because of its large parking lot and restrooms that are available to the public.

Another entry point can be found at the intersection between Riviera Drive and Moorland Drive. This area is commonly referred to as Riviera Shores Beach.

San Diego Bay

San Diego Bay, also referred to as “The Big Bay,” is another sailing hotspot. Larger sail boats are more commonly seen in San Diego Bay because it’s more open and there’s no bridges that can interfere.

There are a wide number of options for renting boats or booking a private charter in San Diego Bay. In addition, there are four Port District launches that connect to the bay: San Diego (Shelter Island), National City (Pepper Park), Chula Vista (J Street Park) and Coronado (near Glorietta Bay).

Speed up with Go Pass!
The Flagship Patriot Jet Boat
The Flagship Patriot Jet Boat
Looking for a fun ride out on the bay? Hop on The Flagship Patriot Jet Boat? Grab your Go Pass and enjoy tricks and turns performed by your skilled captain. You'll fly across the water in an open-air boat during your heart racing ride!
Buy Now
Local Tips
How much can you save by using the Go Pass?

The Go San Diego Pass is the perfect way to explore more attractions and activities that the area has to offer, all while being cost-efficient.

With the Go San Diego Pass, you can save up to 55% off admission fees at some of the area’s most popular attractions.

Sailing Tips

Before heading out on a sailing adventure there’s a few tips that will help you make the most out of the experience.

Know Sailing Terms

Get to know standard sailing terminology before hitting the water. There’s a lot of information online and books that can read to help you get a general understanding.

Be Open to Help

If you’re completely new to sailing, be open to taking instructions. Even for more experienced sailors, it’s important to be open to constructive criticism.

Safety First

Most importantly, remember that safety comes first always. Be sure to have all the necessary safety items on board and to really familiarize yourself with safe practices.

Looking to Save on Tickets?
Save on Tickets
Explore all that San Diego has to offer & save up to 55% on attractions
This Month's Forecast
Jan
48°F / 68°F
Sunny in January
Feb
49°F / 69°F
Sunny in February
Mar
52°F / 70°F
Sunny in March

Stay Nearby

Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina
Bayfront
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina
from $179 / night
View Hotel
Bahia Resort Hotel
Family Friendly
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Bahia Resort Hotel
from $199 / night
View Hotel
Bay Club Hotel & Marina
Bayfront
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Bay Club Hotel & Marina
from $153 / night
View Hotel
Humphreys Half Moon Inn & Suites
Family Friendly
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Humphreys Half Moon Inn & Suites
from $159 / night
View Hotel
Show more San Diego Hotels >>
Tours & Adventures
Half Day Whale Watching Tour
Half Day Whale Watching Tour
$48 per person
Buy Now
Mission Bay Private Duffy Boat Rental
Mission Bay Private Duffy Boat Rental
$217 per group
Buy Now
Looking for Something Different?
More San Diego Activities